Rawalpindi : The platinum jubilee celebrations of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi concluded in a befitting manner with holy mass celebrated at the St Mary’s Academy ground here followed by a simple and graceful event.
The holy mass was a culmination of various events held in the past year with regard to the 75th anniversary of the diocese. Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis led the holy mass with Archbishop Dr Joseph Arshad, the bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese, and bishops of various other dioceses. A number of priests, brothers, nuns and catechists along with a large gathering of faithful from the entire diocese were present on the occasion.
Special prayers were offered for the diocese and its members, for peace and prosperity in Pakistan and for all the people affected by the devastating floods in the country. In his homely, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis thanked God for the 75th anniversary of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese and extended greetings on behalf of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Pro-Prefect for the Section of Evangelisation of Dicastery for Evangelization.
The nuncio also congratulated Archbishop Dr Joseph Arshad, the bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese, all the priests, nuns, missionaries and the people who served or are serving in the diocese. Archbishop El-Kassis reminded everyone of their responsibilities as faithfuls. “Time flows so fast,” he said. “It’s important what we do between start and finish, from the time of our birth and death.”
He continued: “What counts is what we do in the perspective of quality and not quantity. The quality of our faith is not accessed on the ground of organising events only, but on the realization of God’s plan in our lives.” He said while we celebrate, it is also a time to look at the past in gratitude and consider the lives and steady growth of this diocese. “It’s time to renew our commitment to the present and to realise the main theme of the jubilee celebration, which is ‘evangelisation, service and witness’. It’s an occasion to thank God for all the graces we have received.”
Archbishop El-Kassis said everyone should also reflect on how much he/she has “responded to the call of being the chosen ones”. “How much we have failed to fulfil Jesus Christ’s only commandment and that is to love one another as He loves you,” he said. He said that Pope Francis prays that the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi would continue to manifest God’s love to society and to share the richness of our faith in Jesus Christ.
The nuncio also remembered the late bishops of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese — Bishop Nicholas Hettinga, Bishop Simeon Anthony Periera, Bishop Anthony Lobo and Bishop Rufin Anthony on the occasion. Tributes were also paid to past and present fathers, nuns, brothers and missionaries who served or are serving the diocese.
Earlier, Archbishop Dr Joseph Arshad welcomed Archbishop El-Kassis, bishops, nuns, brothers and all guests to the celebrations. Thanking God for the occasion, he briefly talked about the diocese’s history.
School children made the celebrations more colourful with their attire and performances while members of the diocese from various walks of life were also honoured and presented souvenirs and gifts.
The Catholic Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi was original erected in 1887 as the Apostolic Prefecture of Kafiristan and Kashmir. The prefecture was erected from the Diocese of Lahore. One July 10, 1947, the apostolic prefecture was elevated to a full diocese and remained the Diocese of Rawalpindi. In 1979, the name was changed to the Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi. Presently, the civil boundaries of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi diocese comprise Rawalpindi Division, Sargodha Division, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Gujrat.